How to Walk an Ant – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: How to Walk an Ant

Author & Illustrator: Cindy Derby

 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, March 2019

Ages: 3-7

Themes: ants, walking animals, humor, expertise, bonding over activities


My name is Amariyah,
and I am an Expert Walker.
No, I don’t mean I walk perfect,
I mean I walk things.


There are nine steps to becoming an ant walker, and Amariyah, the expert ant walker, is here to show you how it’s done.

This irreverent and quirky picture book follows a young girl as she goes through the process of walking ants, from polite introductions to tragic leash entanglements.

In the end, this unique book shows that as long as you’re doing what you’re best at, you may find a like-minded friend to tag along.

*Zero ants were harmed in the making of this book.
**Oops, 7 ants were harmed in the making of this book

Why I like this book:

Ants need exercise too, and that’s why our young expert, Amariyah, does such a detailed and splendid job of introducing us to a nine-step plan to the intricacies, pitfalls and joys of becoming a proficient walker of an ant (or thousands). All this information can even be transferred to walking other species like, ladybugs. So really you are getting a double bang for your buck with this beginner’s guide. Not to mention that you’ll be rolling around laughing at the same time. But just mind where you roll, please.

The predominantly grey/black palette with splashes of color (except that glorious wild middle spread) and the loose style add to the humor and make every page pop.

This is a terrific debut and watch out for any national ant-walking movements once this hits the shelves.


The terrific Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast had a terrific interview with Cindy last Friday.

DO NOT miss the glossary and two appendices: How to Conduct a Funeral and Ant Anatomy

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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Love, Mama – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Love, Mama

Written and illustrated by: Jeanette Bradley

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2018

Ages: 3-5

Themes: temporary separation, mother’s love, penguins, missing, longing



When they reached the ocean,
Kipling waved goodbye to Mama. 
She called, “I’ll be back soon.”


When Mama leaves her young penguin Kipling, he knows she’ll return home soon—yet he still can’t help but miss her. After all, Pillow Mama won’t read, Picture Mama won’t laugh, and Snow Mama is too cold to cuddle.

But then Kipling receives a special delivery from Mama, including a note that reads:

My love for you stretches across the wide ocean, 
through day and night, 
from earth to sky 
and back again.

And Kipling knows that no matter where Mama is, he is loved. Soon, Mama comes home, and Kipling ends the day where he belongs—right in her arms.(Publisher)

Why I like this book:

I am a sucker for adorable penguin books. Kipling and his Mama’s story has a familiar theme that no matter what may separate them, a mother’s love is absolute. In this story the separation includes physical distance as Mama goes on a trip, which is relevant for many kids for whom their mother’s work requires travel. But the whole separation anxiety is just as relevant for children separated for shorter or longer times from their mom for other reasons . There is another adult penguin at home, so Kipling is cared for but its isn’t quite the substitute for a primary caregiver in a little child’s life.

The Arctic scenes are terrific, and the soft warm pallet adds  charm to the story. I especially like the spread of Kipling creating his own heart letter to send back to Mama. Distance is well portrayed across the wide ocean, through day and night, from earth to sky and back again, etc. And I think everyone reading the story will be happy to see the resolution, in which Mama does come home because there are some pretty tense moments when little Kipling works through his understanding of her promised return. 

Also, I just love the name, Kipling!


Have kids describe what they would send in a care package to a distant Mama/Papa.

This post is part of a series by authors and children’s literature bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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One Iguana, Two Iguanas – PPBF and World Wildlife Day 2019

World Wildlife Day is this Sunday, March 3rd, 2019. And I have selected a more unusual non-fiction picture book to celebrate this event.

Title:  One Iguana, Two Iguanas – A Story of Accident, Natural Selection, and Evolution (part of the How Nature Works Series)

Author: Sneed B. Collard III

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, 2019

Ages: 7-11+

Themes: natural selection, evolution, accidents, Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin, iguanas, science

Genre: non-fiction


Six hundred miles (1,000 km) off the coast of South America, almost exactly on Earth’s equator, a charcoal-colored lizard sits on a ashore of jagged lava rocks. The lizard is a marine iguana, and with its dark skin and bumpy head, it looks like it could have been carved from lava itself.


Natural selection and speciation are all but ignored in children’s nonfiction. To help address this glaring deficiency, award-winning children’s science writer Sneed Collard traveled to the Galapagos Islands to see for himself, where Charles Darwin saw, how new species form. The result is this fascinating story of two species of iguana, one land-based and one marine, both of which developed from a single ancestor that reached the islands millions of years ago. The animals evolved in different directions while living within sight of one another. How is that possible?  

Why I like this book:

The Galapagos Islands are hosts to many types of lizards and other flora and fauna. It is on my bucket list to see, not only for the wildlife but because of its Darwinian fame. It is a fascinating place. This text takes a challenging subject that some adults struggle to comprehend and breaks it down into simple, sequential bit-sized chunks of information. It is a fun, fascinating and educational read. I honestly would also use this in a middle school classroom to introduce the important topic. The author notes at the end that some information is still missing to scientists, but this is from the best knowledge that scientists have gathered and researched about natural selection, adaptation and evolution

Reptile-loving kids will particularly enjoy the historical beginning of lizards and their habitats. The photography is stunning, of not just lizards but birds, crabs, turtles and various types of vegetation. This is a stellar addition to your science shelves and fills a much needed gap. (See what I did there? J)


Parents and teachers will want to use this succinct tool to teach science, natural selection, evolution and adaptation to their children. The back of the book contains a glossary, and more information about Darwin and evolution with additional sources for further study.

Pair this with the fiction book, Galapagos George

Some helpful lesson plans for teaching evolution to elementary students

The evolution institute discusses the rationale behind teaching evolution to this age group.

ThoughtCo has five classroom activities that demonstrate the theory of evolution.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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